• Dear students, staff and families,

    You have undoubtedly heard of the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA’s) announcement today that it is investigating its first, presumptive case of novel coronavirus, COVID-19, discovered this evening. Unfortunately, that case happens to be an individual who is part of our school district family. I can assure you that this individual is getting great care at a hospital in Hillsboro, and I know I speak for everyone when I say that our thoughts are with this person and their family. 

    We understand that this news is worrisome to everyone. As of now, public health officials don’t know how this individual acquired the disease, or whether or to whom it was spread. They are investigating to determine all the places where this individual had spent time when ill. This individual is in a role at Forest Hills Elementary that does not typically come in contact with students. At this point it appears that this person likely only had close contact with a few individuals; they will be asked to stay home from work or school for two weeks, monitor themselves for symptoms and take their temperatures daily, and stay in regular contact with their health care providers and the local public health department. Public health officials tell us that few are likely to need medical care. People without symptoms need not seek care or be tested. Those who become ill should call their physicians to see whether they need to be seen. Their physicians, in consultation with public health officials, will determine appropriate care, and whether testing is needed.

    You may be asking what is meant by “close contact” with the case. Close contact does not mean when walking by someone in a hallway or a stairwell, or saying hello to someone on a sidewalk; rather, it requires contact with another person within about 6 feet, making it easier to pass respiratory droplets that are produced when a person coughs or sneezes. That typically happens while caring for, living with, visiting or sharing a space with another person, such as in a small office or a doctor’s office waiting room.

    Out of an abundance of caution, to ensure the safety of our students, their families and staff, we have decided to close Forest Hills Elementary through Wednesday, March 4. The individual had become ill and stayed home from work on Feb. 19; it was discovered tonight that the individual had a presumptive case of novel coronavirus, COVID-19.  That will complete the recommended 14 days after exposure, allow us to clean the school thoroughly, to let local, state and federal public health professionals conduct their investigation, and to let everyone take a few days off to stay healthy. Forest Hills Elementary is the only school in the district that has had an exposure. Public health officials have assured us there is no need to close other schools in the district at this time, although this could be considered if more cases arise beyond Forest Hills. 

    I’d also like to inform you that there are some simple, everyday, low-tech steps you can take to reduce your chances of exposure and to protect others—and fortunately, they’re the same things you do to prevent flu, the common cold and other respiratory illnesses:

    • Stay home if you’re sick.

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

    • Stay home if you are ill.

    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash. 

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

    • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.

    • Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.

    • Consult the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US.

     

    For those of you who are affected by the school’s closure, we recommend that you rest at home and spend time with your families over the next few days. We have cancelled all activities at all LOSD school facilities this weekend.  

    If you have general questions about COVID-19, you can call the state’s general information number 211, or visit the OHA’s website at healthoregon.org/coronavirus for the latest on the outbreak and investigation, and tips on ways you can protect yourself. You can also visit the CDC website at cdc.gov for the latest on the national and international developments, as well as additional resources for staying healthy.

    Sincerely,

    Lora de la Cruz, Superintendent

    Lake Oswego School District